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Liberal MP believes the ‘Dutch reach’ could save cyclists’ lives

Technique for opening a car door forces the driver to look over their shoulder into their blind spot

A cycling safety campaign that originated in England with the efforts of a retired Cambridge doctor has come to Canada with Quebec Liberal member of Parliament Joël Lightbound explaining the benefits of the “Dutch reach” on the floor of Parliament on Monday. His statement, made in both French and English, was particularly poignant because Lightbound lost a good friend in 2015 in a cycling crash caused by a driver opening their car door.

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The Dutch reach is a technique for opening a car door whereby the driver uses their right hand to open their door instead of the left forcing the individual to look over their shoulder into their mirror and into their blind-spot for oncoming cyclists before exciting the vehicle. Using the technique is intended to encourage drivers to be more attentive to cyclists who are exposed and vulnerable to the unexpected dangers of a car door opening up on them.

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In Aug. 2015, Lightbound’s friend Bernard Carignan, 27, was killed at the corner of Jean Talon Street and St-Denis Street in Montreal when a door was suddenly opened up on him and in an effort to avoid it was hit by a van.

“Every year in Canada, 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured or killed in this country and some of these accidents are preventable using a simple technique called the Dutch reach.” Lightbound said in Parliament. “I encourage all Canadians and all members to practice all winter long so when summer comes in this land, from coast to coast to coast, we do the Dutch reach.”

To remind drivers to use the Dutch reach, Lightbounds office is handing out stickers and he’s asking people to email him if they would like to receive one.